A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.
In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.
And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.
If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.
Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D
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B.C.R. Fegan’s Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where Mr. Nicholas Noo gives his first-ever guests constant reminders to avoid, at all costs, door number 32. Behind each door leading up to 32, guests are treated to many surprises, some creepy and some quite humorous. Entertaining rhymes help light the way through the castle-like establishment as both the readers and the guests of the hotel meet and greet a bevy of characters who have taken up residence behind the first 31 doors. What lies behind Door 32? I’ll never tell!
I really love Fegan’s books for young readers. Lenny Wen, illustrator, creates some of the most vivid and striking images you will find in children’s literature. Wen gives his characters amazingly expressive eyes whether they are screaming in terror at ghosts cooking roasts, doing a double-take at a paintbrush-wielding elf, sneaking peeks at tea-drinking monsters, or (my favorite) marveling at miniature giants.
This particular tale takes on a Halloween feel and serves as a fabulous book to read aloud during October or as part of a monster-themed unit for elementary grades. As a third grade teacher, I can see using this book with my students to study rhyme, compare and contrast the findings behind each door, or as an inspiring writing prompt. The possibilities are as endless as the number of creatures housed behind each of the doors in the Hotel of Hoo.
Fegan does an excellent job of periodically reminding the reader that Door 32 is somewhat of an enigma and, possibly, the most feared of all doors in the Hotel of Hoo. Suspense builds throughout the book as the second-person narrative draws young readers into the different rooms, page by page, and treats them to a fantastic assortment of zombies, ghosts, wizards, and many more creatures of lore.
Fegan and Wen are, book by book, mastering the kiddie lit genre. With each successive book, their plots and accompanying illustrations take on more depth and even more vibrant characters. From the very first pages, this one has the feel of a classic in-the-making.
Pages: 36 | ASIN: B078VSML8V
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Into the Night features an unlikely pairing of characters who set out on a journey to battle barbarians and vampires across the English countryside. I felt like the setting was very detailed in this story. Why did you choose this time and place for your book?
Historically, in the early 1300’s, England became the landing point of the Vikings when they decided to leave their northern towns. Vampire legends were also very well-known and taken seriously throughout almost every century.
Vampire belief peaked and declined and then rose again as time went on. Vampires are indeed everlasting; at first being a tale of horror and then becoming a fascination. It is no doubt that vampires evolved like no other monster in our literature. The lore is still alive today and fills us both with fear and desire.
I studied old maps of the English countryside and manipulated some letters of real older towns to create my locations. I also mentioned some landmarks that still exist today to give Into the Night a more historical background rather than that of pure fantasy. Somehow, barbarians, vampires, and England just seemed to fit perfectly.
The book got its title because one evening I was driving with the sun behind me and darker night skies ahead of me. I was literally driving into the night. It felt ominous and fit the vibe of my story well. Also at that time, was a popular song on the radio that shared the same name by Santana and Chad Kroeger.
The hero’s Samuel and Valencia are dynamic characters that battle vampire matriarchs Isabella and Cerbera who are also well developed. What was your inspiration for the characters relationship and how they contrast with the villains?
Samuel is a drifter with no clear path in life. Valencia is unable to forget a bad memory and is driven to seek revenge. In a way Valencia is too harsh and Sam too meek; together they take what the other has too much of and it makes them a perfect duo.
The vampire sisters mask their vile intentions and wicked deeds with beauty that beguiles those they encounter. Without Valencia, Samuel would not have been able to (or perhaps not want to) resist them. It stems from the duality of our minds – the fear of losing our humanity (Soul, goodness) and the desire to break free from physical obstacles and society’s restraints and give in to lust. Valencia keeps him grounded and stands as an icon of strength and courage; which eventually wins Sam’s admiration.
I felt like this novel did a great job utilizing vampire lore and creating some of its own. How did you set about creating the vampires in your story?
Into the Night was my first screenplay (and my second published book). At the time I was reading: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. That’s when I decided to practice what I was reading. My first words of the story were Valencia’s speech to Sam, at their first encounter, about Cerbera stalking her prey. I remember putting the monologue on Facebook and getting replies like: “what happens next?” The truth is I didn’t know. I was just practicing a writing exercise I had assigned to myself, but I knew I had to make something out of it now.
It helped that I took a liking to everything vampire; watching movies from Nosferatu to Interview with a Vampire to Underworld, and collecting a library of vampire literature; from Camilla to Vlad to vampire encyclopedias.
Cerbera’s name is taken from a plant species found in India; known as the suicide tree due to its toxicity. The vampire sisters each have a unique trait. One paralyzes men with a touch, the other with a look. Together they symbolize heightened sexuality that dominates all men and is based on the biblical character, Lilith, who eventually formed the race of the succubus. The vampires in Into the Night are a compilation of everything I read and saw.
I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia. Do you have any plans to expand their story in the future?
I have thought about bringing Samuel and Valencia back together as a vampire fighting couple. With the barbarian threat culled and the vampire’s uncanny trait to keep coming back; I would be able to dedicate the story to just vampires.
In the middle of the story Sam and Valencia rescue a family that escapes to Ireland. That was intended to be the main plot for the continuation. The team rejoins to aid the family and fight a vampire threat in Ireland.
In the autumn of 1325 an army of barbarians invade the south-western region of England. A drifter named, Samuel and a strong-willed woman named, Valencia journey north to Ashborough to seek the aid of the steward’s army.
While on their mission they realize the barbarian army is close behind them along with two vampire matriarchs and their vampire horde. They find themselves in the midst of two wars as they fight northward on, what seems to be, a Sisyphean task.
Posted in Interviews
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In Susan-Alia Terry’s novel Coming Darkness myths and legends become real. Known as the Other-kin, angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, and other fabled creatures live among one another. When Archangel Michael appears to seek Lucifer’s help, Lucifer’s comfortable life starts to unravel. The Father and the rest of Heaven are missing, there’s a mysterious black ooze that burns the skin of angels, and an unknown race reveals itself seeking to destroy. As Lucifer struggles with this conflict, his lover Kai sets out to prove himself worthy of respect. But with Lucifer gone, Kai realizes how dependent on the fallen archangel he has become.
I love the world Terry has built in Coming Darkness. She wove together characters from myths and folklore, as well as creatures from different religious sects, to create a seamless and fascinating story. Her characters have distinct personalities, which make the reader want to know more about them and who they are. Terry provides glimpses into interesting backstories – glimpses that explain why Lucifer was exiled from heaven and the relationship he holds with Michael.
There was a lot going on in this novel. Terry uses various sub plots to help us get to know the characters and to move the story along. This is a great technique to use – it adds interest and excitement. It also keeps the reader from becoming complacent since so many things are happening at once.
However, there are so many things going on that I sometimes felt lost, every time I felt I had a direction, the story would change or add a different sub plot. Ultimately, I felt there was too much happening.
The world and characters the author has created are fantastic. Angles on Earth have been written about so many times, but Terry is able to imbue her characters with original personalities that sets this apart from most books in this same genre. The ideas presented were interesting, and I couldn’t wait to read more. There are some steamy sex scenes in Coming Darkness as well. Although I felt that they could have been handled more subtly, they do add another emotional layer to this already thrilling story. Terry’s skills as a storyteller are superb which is why I wish that one or two ideas were really fleshed out so that I could immerse myself in this fascinating story.
If you enjoy reading about werewolves or vampires, or find Lucifer and his fallen angels intriguing, this book would be a good fit for you. Honestly, everything about this book pulls me in and makes me want to like it. As I do with any author with great writing talent, I beg for more focus, detail and character development. Coming Darkness showcases Susan-Alia Terry’s talent and I cant’t wait to read more of her work.
Pages: 258 | ASIN: B01D7MM5IM
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Legends of Perilisc is a collection of short stories created by Jesse Teller. This collection has eight different stories that all tie together along a timeline. While each story can stand alone there is a sense that it’s building up to something that we don’t get to in this book. Each title is subtitled with a phrase like “120,000 Years Before The Escape” (Teller p.7) and “Three Years Before The Escape” (Teller p. 197). While the preface lists the date as being after the Escape it offers no clue to who is escaping what. This leaves the author open to create many more books in this series. There is one character that reoccurs in most of the stories, Simon the Bard.
At first the beginning story sounds like a twist on the Greek Mythology stories from when the Gods battled for control of the world. While some of the names mentioned do link back to mythology, most of the characters are original to Jesse Teller. Their personalities and names differ from one story to the next. I think this lack of continuity is intentional and well done showing the different times and places in Perilisc. These stories are dark; they are not happy endings with moral lessons. It is a work of fantasy unlike anything I have come across. Each individual story tells of a quest, usually the quest is to find someone and kill them. Through these short stories you get so much detail though. The author does not waste words. Every line is important to character development, the action or setting.
Piecing together information from the different stories we learn more about Simon the Bard. He is the constant so far in the world created by Teller. He travels the word claiming to be a simple story teller, but is always in the right place at the right time to offer important information. He is immortal, and has magical powers but the reader does not discover just how deep those powers go.
As with any collection of short stories it can be frustrating to get small pieces of a story line and not see where they end up. Knowing that all these story lines interact building up to “the escape” is even more frustrating given the huge jumps in time. Chances are we may never know more about the characters we read about. One example is Konnon. His story is brief, we find out about his devastating childhood, his enslavement to an enchanted beast, and his revenge. His story takes place in one night, but we don’t know how this fits into the overall story line. It is just a good snap shot into the world and how it is developing through time.
Legends of Perilisc is a great collection for the reader looking for a fresh take on fantasy novels. It is not for the reader looking for a happy ending and a magical quest with elves and good wizards. This collection is dark, full of death and evil. Topics of patricide, cannibalism, adultery, rape and many more dark topics fill these stories. A good read with an open ending leaving the author free to continue this world and create many more stories to entertain and shock his readers.
Pages: 141 | ASIN: B01I7KD9O8
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William Burke’s Voodoo Child is an engaging, if not slightly creepy, adventure to a tropical island plagued by greed, witchcraft and humanity. With Maggie Child as our main character, this strong female lead finds her life turned upside down when a tour in Iraq ends up landing her in a research facility. After undergoing an intense experiment it’s her wits and savvy that spring her, and fellow captive Glen Logan, from their captors. Using her family connections Maggie ends up bringing Glen along for the ride as they escape to the Caribbean Island of Fantomas. Neither of them is prepared for what lies ahead. The island has descended into chaos thanks to the joining of a money-hungry woman and one of the strongest spirits in Voodoo lore. This isn’t a tropical vacation that will leave you with a tan. You’ll be lucky to leave with your body intact.
Don’t let the eighty-four-chapter count intimidate you. Many of the chapters are short, carrying important information in succinct little pages. Burke knows how to engage his audience as his cast of strong female leads aren’t ready to lay down and accept their fate. Maggie, Sarafina and Lavonia are the three main characters of this tale and they couldn’t be more different from each other. On one hand you’ve got Maggie, who is an army chopper pilot who isn’t afraid of anything and not about to take sass. Sarafina is the lovely Voodoo priestess who has inherited her title at a young age, but don’t let her youth fool you. Lavonia is a greedy former beauty queen looking to make a fast buck and is ill-prepared to deal with the consequences of her desires. These three cross paths in the most interesting of ways on the small island of Fantomas. Burke weaves his tale and captivates his audience with ease.
Voodoo Child is the first book in a series and it does an excellent job of setting the stage for the story to come. The first volume can make or break a series and Burke seems to understand that as he lays out the world in which his characters live. The relevant characters have their back stories tenderly flushed out and the basics of Voodoo, which is an obvious major part of the tale, are carefully explained. Since Voodoo is a real religion Burke must have had to research and ensure that what he is portraying in his story is correct. The care in which he takes in explaining the various rituals reveal that he did indeed do more than spend five minutes Googling the subject.
If the chapter count hasn’t scared you off you’ll find yourself entangled in a mess of zombies, arrogant humans and spiteful spirits out to take what is theirs. The chaos has meaning and while there are horrific moments in the story none of them feel overdone or out of place. If horror stories are your thing, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for within the pages of Voodoo Child.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B01H9E4HDA
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This fantasy novel is bursting at the seams with an intricate world waiting to be discovered, not only by the reader, but also by the main character, Asher. He is a college student in a world that appears to be similar to the Earth we know and love, but he is also an immortal. He uses his power to help people with their issues for small fees. This earns him enough money to survive, but it also earns him some powerful enemies and sends him on a trip to learn about his past and parentage.
In the Fae Realm, Asher gets caught up between two feuding noble houses, Summer Court and Winter Court. While he is there to meet his mother, the inhabitants of the realm look to exact some favors from Asher before his quest can reach its end. Will his immortality prove to be a blessing, or will he come to think of it more of a “curse of the deathless”? What will he discover about his birth and will the evil organizations of his home planet come for him?
This novel is gritty, funny, and entertaining. The narration is mostly in third person, although Asher will interject his thoughts directly to the reader whenever he deems necessary. For example, while trying to survive what would otherwise be a fatal sword blow, he thinks “Note to self: Lungs and swords don’t play nice together”.
However, there are some pitfalls that come with a fantasy novel of this scope. The author has created a universe that is seemingly vast and full of magic creatures and objects, of which the reader and the protagonist know very little. Because of this, it gives the reader difficulty when it comes to finding out what is going to happen next. I felt that issues were resolved by seemingly random events which then spawned the next set of events. The plot points come across as if they were written for a video game, as there are checkpoints to be met before the story can progress. For example, Asher has to gain favor with the rest of the family members before his step-sister will let him meet his mother.
If you can ignore these minor issues then you will find an entertaining adventure story in a world that is rich and worthwhile. The universe has plenty of depth, lore, and legend for any fantasy fan. The narration is spectacular despite a couple of minor grammatical mistakes. The characters are fun, and the dialogue is original although parts of the story may be a bit cliché. I’m not sure how nearly every woman in the story came to be so attractive, but there it is.
Overall, this story is quite the undertaking, and I can’t wait for a sequel, which the author seems ready to deliver.
Pages: 319 | ASIN: B01F0ING16
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City Under the Moon is a well written action adventure novel, but that’s not surprising considering who the author is. Hugh Sterbakov was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Robot Chicken: Star Wars and Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III. He also co-created the Freshman comic books with Seth Green and also wrote Hell & Back which is a stop-motion feature film. Sprinkle in an MFA in screenwriting and you’re guaranteed the writing is going to be rock solid. Enough about Hugh, let’s focus on his book. City Under the Moon takes an outbreak approach to the werewolf story which, I think, is a semi original plot. The werewolf plague is spreading through Manhattan on New Year’s Eve eventually getting the attention of the FBI, the military, and the President. In the beginning it starts with one or two cases of werewolf attacks, but that quickly multiplies. The military is deployed to Manhattan to, at first, evacuate civilians, but that quickly devolves into a quarantine of the island where the military is battling huge waves of zombies… I mean werewolves. An interesting idea that comes along with the werewolf outbreak is the fact that werewolves only change when the moon is out. So through the story there are these times during the day when people have time to prepare, sort of like the calm before the storm. But during these times there are people walking around among them that may have been bitten by a werewolf, don’t know about it, forgot about, or are trying to hide it, and when the moon comes they change into werewolves right next to their loved ones. So it’s like a disease that is only deadly when the moon is out and makes everyone suspicious of each other during the day. Although the story takes on a scientific pretext, the origin of the werewolf outbreak comes straight from werewolf lore and is resolved according to those rules. At one point the characters have to travel to Transylvania to find the werewolf’s lair (the scene does not disappoint). The scene stands in stark contrast to the rest of the book as it seems like it’s pulled from an old Dracula novel. The last half of the book is a race against the clock to take out the werewolf leader before Manhattan is overrun and the wolf plague spreads beyond the island. There are several characters in the book, but I consider Brianna Tildascow and Lon to be the two main characters. These characters have well defined motivations and well developed character traits. Tildascow is an FBI agent that is part of a secret government program to create super soldiers (which pretty much means she kicks ass), she has some abandonment issues that leads to promiscuity and a need to throw herself into her work. And Lon who is your typical anti-social, self-aggrandizing, misanthropic nerd (I’m pretty sure there ‘typical’…right) who happens to be the world’s foremost authority on the occult, specifically werewolves. There is rarely a dull moment in the novel where you’re not learning about the interesting characters, learning about the werewolf disease, learning about werewolf lore, or where werewolves are either killing or being killed. Now to discuss what I didn’t like about the book….. Well that’s enough about that. LOL. Ok, gun to the Hungry Monsters head, there were a few things that didn’t digest well, but City Under the Moon is a non-stop action packed thrill ride with very few missteps.
Published March 1, 2012